In the process of balkanization, division of fragmentation of a state or a region takes place. The present boundaries of a region or a state changes and is divided into smaller states of regions which are hostile to each other. Balkanization also means disintegration or breaks up of states into incorporative bodies. The new states formed from the parent state will be smaller than the former states.
The states which are multi ethical in nature, breaks down into ethically similar states which results into a geographical division. The term is not a positive term because before balkanization, a state or a region will encounter political, economical, social, and cultural disturbances.
The term balkanization originated from the name of the Balkan Peninsula of Europe, which got divided into several small nations in the early twentieth century. This was a historic break up after the control by the Ottoman Empire.
The word Balkanization was coined at the end of World War I, in which the Balkan Peninsula broke down followed by the breakdown of the Austro Hungarian Empire and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, also known as Soviet Union.
It was since the early 1900, that the world has encountered many successful and unsuccessful attempts at Balkanization. The situation still continues as there are still some efforts and discussions of Balkanization in some countries.
Attempts at Balkanization
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, balkanization started taking place outside the Balkans and the Europe when the colonies which were earlier under the control of Europeans stated disintegrating in Africa. The greatest event of balkanization was the disintegration of the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia.
The attempts of balkanization were successful in both the nations as the break up took place peacefully without many consequences and the countries are living in peace today. The most violent attempts at balkanization could be encountered in Kashmir, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Kurdistan, and Iraq.
In Kashmir, the Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir want to break away from India. The situation in India is somewhat same. The Tamil Tigers who are the separatist organization of the Tamil Tigers want to break away from that country. The Kurdish in Turkey, Iraq, and Iran has fought a war to create a state for them which was named as Kurdistan. Kurdistan is not an independent state but it is a region which is consistent with Kurdish population.
The process of balkanization in America was differently followed. The attempt was peaceful and described the potential division based on political, social and political differences. The best example for this is that balkanization took place for protection of special interest by contesting elections in specific areas than with governing the entire country.
Balkanization is a part of today’s world politics and there are many violent and peaceful instances of balkanization that has and will continue to shape the world geography and politics.
Impact of Balkanization
The process of balkanization ends up in creating new states which are smaller than the former state. But this is not the end but a new beginning of many problems which the new born state will have to suffer. The new states wanted to get disintegrated because of many problems like they were ignored by the government, they were not given equal importance, their interests were left unfulfilled etc. and the newly formed small state will suffer with the problems like failure in politics, economic backwardness, improper administration etc.
Today the nations are in a virtual race and states wants to get powerful. These newly formed states will have no stand in front of major world powers. They will feel backward and will even lack the capacity of deal with external threats. These nations will become the areas which are constantly encountered with security threats due to backwardness.
The nation which is unable to protect it boundaries and is having economic backwardness can hardly undertake any development project. The welfare schemes works inefficiently are the nation face many crises. The latter balkanized state even suffers with problems in which the citizens of the balkanized states want a further division. There is no end to this process but it is a road which is full of crises.
The process of balkanization creates homogeneous states. But, in the era of globalization a shift from heterogeneous to homogeneous environment will defeat the basic need of globalization. The process of globalization was effective enough to bind the nation into a single unit and balkanization is harming this integrity. We wear jeans while living in India; this was a result of globalization. Cultural mix is one of the objects of globalization but the events of balkanization have proved that there is a long way ahead.
Can autonomy combat balkanization
We are aware of the process of Balkanization which took place and disintegrated the former Soviet Union into many smaller units. If we compare this situation to that of India, we can make out that the country was successful in handling the situation. Though, there were many violet events in which many lost life, but the government of India faced it with by giving autonomy to the state.
Like other countries, India is also a multi ethical country and has faced the Khalisthan and ULFA movements in Jammu and Kashmir. India wanted to end this problem is a different way and therefore followed a different path of keeping centre’s control to minimum. Other countries want their center to be the most powerful and make it the only platform for solving problems of the state.
To stop balkanization, any plan which results into a strong center should be avoided because a strong center will not be successful in giving space to the states. If a country wants to prevent its states from demanding break up from their state, than it needs to give some amount of autonomy.
At the same time we should not forget that autonomy is no God and is not a solution but has the power to inflict catastrophic effects which are even more dangerous. Looking into the Kashmir matter we find that it enjoys certain benefit which other states do not enjoy.
Like Article 370 of the Constitution of India provides the state to form its own constitution etc, but other states at the same time need to follow only one constitution and their actions should not be violating the provisions provided by the supreme law of the land. What if every state starts demanding the freedom which is currently enjoyed by the state of Jammu and Kashmir? Therefore giving autonomy can also make the situation worst for other countries.
India fought a great battle against colonial rule; India did a lot to maintain the integrity of the country in vivid diversity and an incidence of balkanization shall make all the effort of India go futile. Therefore, the autonomy given to the states should be controlled. This control could be effectively maintained by the constitution, union services, and various other enactments. Autonomy can be compared to a coin.
On one side autonomy can get fruitful results by benefiting the entire country and this could be achieved by a strong political set up. On the other side we can experience disastrous results which will hard the prosperity of the state. Like the political leaders of the regions will perform according to their will and pleasures.
They may ignore the development activities that are must in a state. This even results in great backwardness in these regions. The people residing within boundaries of such regions thinks that the central government are doing nothing for them but the reality is that the political leaders of these region pays no attention and only focus upon filling their trunks.
India has provided autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir which never resulted in balkanization but with autonomy a strong network of terrorism has established which results into casualties and disturbances in the valley. Sometimes such incidents add fuel to the existing fire making the revolt stronger. Industrial development and infrastructure is very poor as compared to other states.
This happened due to a weak political set up. Comparing this situation to the United States of America, we find that this country was able to counter the problems of balkanization with a strong political set up.
A quasi federal structure which gives a certain amount of autonomy is adequate to combat this situation. Balkanization is not only a term but it is also an ideology which could make home at any human mind.
Educating people is the most important task before giving them autonomy. Therefore, we can say that autonomy is no God but giving autonomy along with effective governance could elimination the tension of balkanization.